Form, Not Super Fights, Forced Anthony Pettis to Featherweight

Only big money would lure Pettis down to featherweight last year, but now the move down has been forced to save his career within the UFC.

by Peter Carroll
Jun 9 2016, 4:58pm

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

There is a lot changing in the life of Anthony Pettis. Spending more and more time at Jackson/Winkeljohn in Albuquerque ever since his second last loss to Eddie Alvarez, the spectacular former lightweight champion made a big announcement yesterday regarding his future.

Along with a picture posted on Instagram of himself in the Albuquerque gym flanked by his brother, UFC flyweight Sergio Pettis, Brandon 'Six Gun' Gibson, Izzy Martinez and Roberto Alencar, Pettis announced his attention to ply his trade in the featherweight ranks from now on.

'Showtime', as reported by Ariel Helwani, will look to debut in the weight class in August with Mike Dolce being drafted in to help him with his descent to 145 lbs.

The announcement came on the back of Pettis's most significant dip in form since turning pro back in 2007. Losing the lightweight title to Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 185, Pettis has tagged on two more losses to his record. Never before in his career has he dropped as many contests on the trot, and for that reason, Pettis is right to attempt a dramatic change to rectify his poor patch of form.

Once deemed one of the best lightweight fighters of all time after he claimed the UFC title, a drop down to featherweight was predicted to coincide with a super fight for the Milwaukee native. For now, though, Pettis needs to look at getting himself back in the win column before he can look to tests at the top of the division.

Super Fights

After claiming the lightweight title with a first-round armbar of Ben Henderson in 2013, Pettis was forced to the sidelines with a knee injury. Such was the dominance he displayed in his win over Henderson that there was plenty of talk of a potential super fight between Pettis and long-standing featherweight champion of the time, Jose Aldo.

When Dana White appeared in Macao for UFC Fight Night 48, he stated that the only super fight the promotion were interested in at the time was Pettis versus Aldo.

"Any super fights that we're looking at right now in my opinion would be like an Anthony Pettis vs. Jose Aldo," said White. "Even though Pettis has been injured for a while and hasn't defended the title, he beat Ben Henderson, who is a guy who had annihilated that whole division.

"He beat him, and he beat him easily, and Jose Aldo and Pettis have been talking about moving back and forth to take each other's belts. So really, that's the only one I can think of that would be a super fight."

After Pettis was matched with Eddie Alvarez, he reacted to Conor McGregor's aspirations of moving up to the lightweight division. Interestingly, Pettis stated that "the lightweight division is a whole different place", while putting his name in the hat for a potential bout with the Irishman.

"For him to say, he's gonna come up there and walk through everybody, it's crazy," Pettis told Bloody Elbow. "He's only beaten Chad Mendes, one guy in the featherweight class that's top five. I mean, featherweight has always been an option.

"I want my belt back, that's my main goal. You know, I'm doing well financially, I'm not hurting at all. So for me, the goal right now is getting my belt back. What happens after that fight, we'll see. People wanna see McGregor, I fight McGregor, people wanna see Aldo, I fight Aldo, that's what it's all about."

At the time of all the super fight talk regarding Pettis, he was heralded as one of the most spectacular fighters in the world. Yet, his last few outings have not been consistent with that kind of status.


Against Dos Anjos, Alvarez and most recently Edson Barboza the mesmerizing attacks of the 29-year-old have been stifled. His loss to Dos Anjos brought an end to four consecutive bouts that Pettis had claimed finishes in. Both Alvarez and Barboza also made Pettis graft for the full 15 minutes of their meetings. Given the drop down, 'Showtime' must be confident that he will have more success with his unorthodox techniques at a lower weight class.

If his featherweight debut happens to fall in August, the MMA universe will undoubtedly want a flashy performance from the former champion. Given his former status, it is unlikely that Pettis will be cut if he collects four losses on the bounce. However, should he make it five losses in a row, he will be skating on very thin ice.

We will surely see Pettis top a ranked opponent for his first fight in the weight class. A rematch of his sophomore UFC outing with Jeremy Stephens would generate a lot of excitement given that he just spoiled Renan Barao's welcoming party at 145 lbs. Max Holloway is another man who needs another significant test as Conor McGregor looks to rematch his welterweight clash with Nate Diaz and the interim title to be determined when Jose Aldo meets Frankie Edgar at UFC 200.

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